The Hounds of Baskerville - Some thoughts

I'm pretty confident that this is spoiler free.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is, I feel, more rooted than most Sherlock Holmes stories in the Victorian era. Its central premise – the idea of a phantom hound stalking a family through the generations - works really well in its normal Victorian setting.

Naturally, for a 21st century audience with a more scientific and less superstitious outlook, that was never going to work. Consequently the legend aspect was removed by Mark Gatiss in his retelling The Hounds of Baskerville.

I can only admire the way that Gatiss reworked the story so that many of the characters from the original were able to make their way into his version. Barrymore, Stapleton, Mortimer and Frankland were all woven into the story in very suitable parts. However be warned that the characters do not have the same motives and, consequently, those versed in the original story are likely to be very surprised about who is friend and who is foe.

For those of us versed in the origins of the story there was also a very welcome, and some might say overdue, nod to Bertram Fletcher Robinson – who gave Conan Doyle the inspiration for the original story – in the Dartmoor tour guide Fletcher.

The effects and music do a first class job of creating tension especially in the moments featuring Henry Knight struggling with his internal (and external) demons.

We also see excellent acting (as we have come to expect) from Cumberbatch and Freeman. The former, in particular, shines when we see Holmes struggling with his scientific and logical world falling down around him.

I was in the dark (in every sense) as to how the conclusion would play out and it is well done indeed given the constraints imposed by its new chronological setting and its more sceptical audience.

However, and this is no criticism of Mark Gatiss, while this episode was excellent and easily on a par with its predecessor, I cannot help but feel that this story, perhaps more than any other in the canon, works best in its original setting with its original ghostly canine.

If you are interested in how the original story came about it is covered in my latest book. Online links can be found here.


  1. Agree 100%.

    I was wondering how they'd adapt a more superstitious tale to a modern setting and a bit disappointed to find that it had been done as a conspiracy angle.

    Not sure how it could have been done better, but I certainly felt a bit left down after the brilliance of Scandal in Belgravia.

  2. Nice review of the episode.

    Check out my review .